The start of every year sees many of us take stock of our lives, review our personal inventory, and start digging deep in search of a new dose of optimism and energy. Whether we call them goals, ambitions or resolutions, the plans we make, both personally and professionally, can have a major impact on the next 12 months.

In the world of Learning, strategic planning is a crucial part of day-to-day life and getting ahead of the curve of learning trends can give you and your organization a major advantage. If you find yourself looking for a brave new approach to professional learning for your company in the year ahead then the following learning trends might just be the planning inspiration you are looking for.

1. Gamification

If learning trends were members of a rock band, Gamification would be the lead singer. This learning trend is the absolute “Rock Star” of the learning world right now. Gamification is at the heart of many corporate learning conversations as HR and Learning teams now understand more better how to motivate and engage learners.

Gamification increases user engagement and retention of information because learners feel that playing a game gives them a welcome break from the stress of traditional learning methods.

How does it work? Gamification increases user engagement and retention of information as learners feel that playing a game gives them a welcome break from the stress of traditional learning methods. It feeds our evolutionary inclination for learning through play.

Games can be created for any subject and adapted for different skill levels. They’re ideal when explaining difficult concepts or to test a learner’s knowledge in a less formal way. Think back to the last time you were part of a role play scenario during a learning session. Remember how much more engaged you were and you’ll understand why Gamification is becoming one of the most important tools available in corporate learning.

Demystifying the Modern Learner

How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

2. Mobile learning

In 2018, one of the hottest learning trends to sign up to is Mobile Learning, but why?

Look around at the people around you. There is a high probability that many of them are holding a smartphone or tablet. More than half the world’s population uses smartphones; most of them spend up to three hours per day on their devices. Mobile learning channels the learning experience through these devices and increases user reach. It also offers flexible access, enabling previously wasted time, like commuting, to become learning sessions on the go.

3. Digital content

Transitioning to the digital format is not only cost effective, but makes life easier for the learner.

After 244 years in print, one of the world’s biggest brands in printed reference publications announced that it wouldn’t be publishing new editions in print. Since 2012, the Encyclopedia Britannica has been a digital-only resource. Just like this legendary reference tool, textbooks are another resource making a serious move in the direction of ‘digital only’. Transitioning to the digital format is not only cost effective, but makes life easier for the learner. Searching text is much faster when a link or a quick word search can direct the user to the section they need.

4. Webinars

Webinars allow all participants to ask questions, solve problems and engage in social activities, wherever they are in the world.

Gather several motivated learners together, pick a subject and allow everyone present to participate in the discussion. You have just created a seminar. Now use technology that has become affordable to most and totally portable. Now you don’t all need to be in the same room or even country as your fellow learners. This is the simplicity of the Webinar.

Educators from all over the world now offer webinars to learners to deliver knowledge in an easy to digest way. Webinars allow all participants to ask questions, solve problems and engage in social activities, wherever they are in the world.

5. Personalized learning

Like a fitted suit, there is something very pleasing about personal service. Personalized learning has been given a major boost by technologies such as learner management systems. These maintain each learner’s development profile in a single database. This data can be used to personalize every part of the learning experience. The system acts like a professional development coach, monitoring progress and suggesting further resources based on objectives and achievements.

In simple terms, learners can now adapt their educational path depending on their specific goals, simply by having access to a Learner Management System. Expertise, literally at the push of a button.

6. Microlearning – Bite-sized learning

Back in the 1990s a radical group of progressive institutions started experimenting with 10-minute lessons, punctuated by rewards, leisure activities or other non-demanding activities.

Microlearning provides small, bite-sized lessons of anything from 60 seconds to 20 minutes, taking full advantage of when the learner feels most motivated to concentrate.

This was possibly inspired by the idea that the best way to learn something new is by taking on small amounts of information at a time. Traditional educational wisdom has based learning around an hour (albeit an academic hour of 45-50 minutes). However, more recent research shows that people can only really focus on something for a maximum of 20 minutes before attention starts to wane.

Microlearning provides small, bite-sized lessons of anything from 60 seconds to 20 minutes, taking full advantage of when the learner feels most motivated to concentrate. This can lead to better results in the long term, which is important when training an employee to perform a job.

Demystifying the Modern Learner

How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

7. Peer to peer assessment

There is something rather empowering about being asked to intelligently and constructively peer review a friend or colleague. This is especially true when we are motivated to help them to develop and improve in what they do.

Asking a learner to grade another learner’s work, explain a complex theory, or coach someone else benefits both the learner and their peer. This team-focused learning model provides opportunities for learners to extend their knowledge, as well as build on a sense of community and responsibility.

Learning providers and employers also see reduced costs compared with using a traditional tutor. Savings in time away from the desk, trainer time and greater learning outcomes mean that peer to peer learning programs are a great investment.

8. AR/VR technology

While Virtual reality creates a simulated immersive environment, Augmented Reality blends computer generated information with the viewer’s natural senses. The use of AR/VR allows learning programs to engage their learners more deeply, while creating a more interactive environment. This can spark the learner’s imagination and encourage deeper learning. Learning providers are recognizing the potential of AV/VR technologies to offer a more in-depth and tailored program of development.

9. Social learning

We all strive to belong somewhere, and when we study as a part of a group we can feel more motivated to engage and achieve stronger outcomes. Educators have known for 60 years that we learn best from each other. That is why training programs feature group work, discussions and brainstorming. Until recently this was only possible in a face to face environment.

The Internet, combined with mobile devices, allows us to share ideas, data, and even the process of learning and developing our professional skills with others online. Thanks to the emergence of Social Learning we no longer have to study alone; we can now belong to a group of like-minded learners.

10. Informal learning goes digital

This learning trend has no set objective in terms of learning outcomes and is never intentional from the learner’s standpoint. Informal learning is a trend that sees many of us obtaining knowledge through social and informal settings. The change has come as the L&D sector has incorporated opportunities for informal learning into eLearning environments. By offering native content and collaborative tools, organizations can provide a well-rounded approach that works better for learners. All interactions and ideas can be tracked and recorded for quick access later, making them even more valuable as a reference tool.